More Independents for Australia might see some change

In my local Federal seat, the sitting Member of Parliament is John Alexander, a Liberal. He met with the leaders of our climate activist group and claimed he wasn’t a climate denier, but nor was he overly ‘alarmist’ about it either. He claimed he was just an MP with little or no power.

But how much power does he have compared to us climate activists? Do we get to vote on energy legislation? Do we get to cross the floor when Scott Morrison proposes a disastrous ‘Gas led recovery‘? John Alexander is a Liberal yes-man who has not once crossed the floor and voted against the government on anything, let alone the most important issue of our day.

And I mean the most important issue of our day. Other issues appear louder – more urgent. Coronavirus, return to work policies, anti-vaxxers, maintaining the hospitals and healthcare during the pandemic, and reopening the country all seem more immediate and urgent.

The problem is – climate change also deserves to be in the the Red Box below as Important and Urgent. But it doesn’t seem urgent – until it literally blazes to life in Australian super-fires. We have short memories. Unless it is literally exploding in our faces, climate change appears to be in the “Do later” category below – important, but something we’ll get to later. The zeitgeist right now from the Liberal government appears to be that we can’t be worried about some trace gases in the atmosphere when coming out of a once-a-century pandemic!

It sounds like the Liberal government needs to speak to the Pentagon. They’re the ones that describe global warming as a “Threat Multiplier”. Water-stress, geopolitical tensions, domestic economic concerns, refugees and economic migrants, harmony in society vs racial tensions, even abstract concepts like our superannuation funds – any of the social justice or political concerns you may have will be wounded beyond recognition in the decade/s to come if we do not act now.

Why is it so urgent? I’m going to ask you to take 3 minutes out of your day to re-watch this classic Bill McKibben piece (probably not new to many of you.)

Now look at this graph. What do you notice?

That’s right. Look how much time has passed since it came out. Also, this carbon allowance was based on 2 degrees. The IPCC are now stating that we cannot really go passed 1.5 degrees or the negative consequences become quite unbearable. Not the end of the world – but the end of many nations. Smaller island states through to certain agricultural zones and industries all get wiped out as the climate consequences of just 1.5 degrees takes hold.

So what is the latest? According to Carbon Brief August 2021:-

AR6 uses a combination of historical observations, climate models and an updated estimate of climate sensitivity to provide a best-estimate that the world will pass – or temporarily “reach” – 1.5C somewhere between 2030 and 2035, depending on the future emissions scenario. 

Even in the most stringent mitigation scenario examined in the report –SSP1-1.9 – the world exceeds 1.5C in most models during the middle of the 21st century, before falling back down below 1.5C by 2100 due to the large-scale deployment of negative emissions technologies (for more details on the Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs) used in the AR6, read Carbon Brief’s explainer). 

That is – even if we assume every nation on earth works their hardest to break their addiction to fossil fuels – we’re still going to crash through 1.5 degrees sometime this century. We’ll only get back to 1.5 degrees at around 2100 if we work really hard at deploying negative emissions technologies like ocean carbon sequestration, biochar, and other tech that draws carbon out of the air.

This is why our local climate group in Bennelong has decided to push for an Independent. The Murdoch media have made the Greens too toxic politically – and sometimes party politics comes with its own baggage. Labor has a hard enough time getting voted into a relatively safe seat like Bennelong – let alone the Greens. But an Independent? They have broken through in many seats that were previously considered safe.

As Pearls and Irritations says October 2021:-

In the 1972 election the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Coalition received 91 per cent of first preference votes. Major parties now receive only 75 per cent of first preference votes.

This trend is likely to continue as we  become increasingly disillusioned by the Liberal, National and Labor parties. The Coalition has power but no purpose. The ALP has no power and shows little purpose. It is so determined to be a small target that it is hard to know what it stands for any more.

The Greens, Centre Alliance and Independents hold five seats in the House of Representatives. They have become an almost permanent fixture.

There is now a surge of interest and money to support more independent candidates in electorates such as North Sydney, Pearce, Cowper, Berowra and Wentworth.

And if you’re worried about a ‘hung parliament’, the rest of the article explains that they’re not that big a deal. Important legislation still passed. Who knows? Maybe a few more Independents might break the Party-voting gridlock of the many John Alexanders in parliament, and actually recognise the scale of the climate emergency and Australia’s commitment to it.

PS: If you live in Bennelong and agree with me that John Alexander has failed to lead on climate, the Voices of Bennelong group have members willing to come and sit with you and listen to your concerns. If you can get a group of say 10 people together, Voices have said they will have a leader come and meet with you to document your concerns. We don’t have a candidate yet, but are trying to formulate our policies. We are just starting, and things are fluid. Think of the influence you could have by meeting with them.

This entry was posted in Activism, Australian Politics, POLITICS AND GEOPOLITICS. Bookmark the permalink.

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